A bright future for aluminium

05 May 2010

The region is pushing ahead with new capacity and downstream industries as demand recovers

Gulf Extrusions’ plans to issue tenders for its planned $122m extrusion plant at Taweelah is the latest aluminium project planned for the region.

The new 60,000 tonnes-a-year (t/y) plant , a joint venture with Abu Dhabi Basic Industries Corporation (Adbic), will be located at Taweelah in Abu Dhabi and be part of an integrated metals park that is being built around Emirates Aluminium’s 700,000-t/y smelter.

It is a logical step by Abu Dhabi to build a metals park around the smelter. Aluminium smelting requires about 15,000 kW for every tonne produced so spending billions on a smelter to export primary metal with a $50 to $100 margin a tonne seems like an awful lot of trouble to go for the money.

Investing in downstream industries such as the extrusion plant and the planned rolling mill and cable plant, makes a compelling argument when margins can be increased to between $500-1,000 a tonne for extruded and rolled aluminium products.

Bahrain is an excellent example of how well a fully integrated metals park works. In fact it is working so well that Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) is pressing ahead with a multi-billion dollar plan for a sixth potline at its smelter, which will raise capacity to 1.2 million-t/y. 

Alba was the first smelter to be built in the Middle East and even after almost 40 years, it is still setting the standard of how things should be done. With aluminium demand to increase by 5 per cent a year and prices now recovering from last year’s lows, the future is looking bright for the non-ferrous metals industry in the region.

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